Daniel Gaunt secured the Gosling’s Invitational title in emphatic fashion at the first attempt at Belmont Hills Golf Club yesterday.
The Australian tapped in a short par putt at the 18th green to complete a bogey-free, five-under-par round of 65 that included five birdies.
Gaunt, who led the field from wire-to-wire, had a four-day 16-under-par 266 that left him eight shots clear of Henry Smart, who made up considerable ground over the final 18 holes to finish second.
David Lawrence finished third, a shot behind Smart, with a seven-under 275.
Camiko Smith, the highest local finisher, was tied for fifth with a five-under 277.
Gaunt started the final round with a healthy six-shot lead and gave nothing away during another flawless display that slammed the door tight on the chasing pack and put him farther out of sight.
“It’s probably the best I have felt on the golf course in five years,” said Gaunt, who pocketed $12,000.
“Mentally I was fresh, physically I was fresh and I enjoyed it for a change, which I haven’t done for so long. If you’re enjoying what you are doing it certainly helps.”
Gaunt saved his best for last as his final round score was his lowest of the tournament and also his second bogey-free round, having carded a five-under 66 without dropping a shot during the opening round at Port Royal Golf Course.
It was also his first wire-to-wire triumph and widest margin of victory.
“Playing so well, you shouldn’t get caught with a six-shot lead,” Gaunt, who resides in Surrey, England, added.
“But this is the game of golf and things do happen so I was pleased to play the way I did, especially with a bogey-free round to finish the tournament.
“The whole four days have been perfect and it’s been an unbelievable trip.”
Smith, who shot an even-par 70 during the final round, was happy with his impressive showing that earned him $3,265.
“Top five was one of my goals for this event and I achieved that,” he said. “I played really well despite not playing much and playing with a slight injury, so I accept it.
“This is pretty big for my confidence and I just need to play more events and get in this position more so I know what to do.”
Smith started the final round in second, six shots off the lead, but fell further off the pace over the last 18 holes.
“I missed a few crucial putts which would have put me up higher,” he said. “I know I can do better and I will learn from my mistakes.”
Smith placed himself in the thick of contention after equalling PGA Tour player Adam Scott’s course record of seven-under 64 during the second round at Port Royal.
Bermuda’s Daniel Augustus carded yesterday’s best round of seven-under 63, which included seven birdies and an eagle at the par-five 6th hole.
Augustus’s late rally earned him $1,625 after finishing tied for sixteenth with a one-over-par 283.
“I felt like it was a do or die for me, so I just went out there and did what I had to do,” Augustus said. “Besides the double bogey on 7, it was a great round overall.
“I could have been a couple shots lower, but I am pleased overall.
“I ran out of holes. If you gave me two more rounds I might have been all up in them [leaders].
“But at least I turned on at some point.”